Meck cobbles together fragments of her life after a traumatic brain injury.
Living with her husband, Jim, and their two toddler boys in Texas, the author’s life changed dramatically in 1988 when a ceiling fan fell on her head. She passed out, and the paramedic’s penlight showed one dilated pupil, one shrunk, and no response to pricks to her fingers and toes. Meck slipped into a coma, and the family prepared for her passing, but she pulled through. However, she had full loss of her episodic memory (recollections of specific events from one’s lived experience) and a good portion of her semantic memory (the recollection of facts; she had about a 100-word vocabulary and was confounded by a fork), and her procedural memory was about as developed as a reptile’s. Meck’s narrative, written with the assistance of award-winning journalist de Visé, moves forward in fits and starts; for years, she lived in a hazy world, unable to read (she learned along with her sons), falling out of chairs, suffering bouts of dizziness and blackouts, and forgetting faces almost instantaneously, including her husband's and children’s. She tried in vain to mimic other peoples’ actions, and she could not discern the function of a hairbrush or how a drinking cup works. Meck relates these tortured years of slowly gathering herself together, then dropping a step or two back, with an unmodulated inflection. She was baffled by routine, feigned comprehension, was pained by sex—though she did have the saving grace of a fast blossoming of love between mother and children. There has been progress on many fronts, she writes, but most days are still a struggle. “Part of me realizes that I will never really know exactly what I was like before my head injury,” she writes, “but another part of me stubbornly refuses to give up as I try desperately to fit pieces together in an ever-changing life-size puzzle.”
A hopeful and heart-gladdening memoir.